Indian Defense Minister: Vajpayee-Musharraf Meeting Not Possible

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said Sunday that a proposed meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan at a regional summit in Kazakhstan this week is not possible.

"I do not see that possibility at all, because if there is to be any kind of talking then the cross-border terrorism has to stop forthwith," he said in an interview with The Associated Press after a regional security conference in Singapore.

Pakistan must also hand over 14 alleged Indian terrorists if there is to be any meeting, he said.

The two nuclear-armed neighbors are on a war footing and have posted more than a million soldiers along their border.

In the interview, Fernandes also called on the United States, Japan and Europe to stop giving money to Pakistan.

He said that "if you really want that the present situation ... be brought to an end, then this is the best way of doing it. You don't have to fire a shot."

Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf made no public comments as he left Islamabad on Sunday for the regional summit of 16 leaders to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from Monday through Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to mediate talks between Musharraf and India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They have indicated they would meet separately with Putin and officials from other worried nations trying to prevent war.

"There is no plan for talks," Vajpayee said as he left New Delhi.

In a tearful speech, Fernandes told regional security officials that his country will not be "impulsive" in its standoff with Pakistan but will be steadfast in the fight against terrorism.

"Neither will we waver in our determination for the simple reason that what we have been fighting and will continue to fight is the war against terrorism, the same terrorism which hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," he said.

Later, Fernandes played down concerns that the current conflict could spin out of control.

"We don't see the makings of any kind of an escalation that takes one to the extreme," he said.

"There is no way India will ever use a nuclear weapon other than as a deterrent. We stand by our nuclear doctrine," Fernandes added. "India will not get drawn into a nuclear arms race."

Fernandes wept at one point in his speech when he described violence in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

"I'm sorry for the difficulty I have every time I think of this," he said. "The country is angry and anguished. The pressure on our prime minister ... to launch an attack is intense."

India and Pakistan have massed about a million troops on their border, putting the nuclear-armed rivals on a war footing. India is demanding that Pakistan halt cross-border infiltration into the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir and crack down on Islamic militants believed responsible for terrorist attacks in the region.

Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan and is at the heart of the current conflict. It was also the cause of two of the three wars fought between India and Pakistan.

Fernandes urged the international community to put pressure on Pakistan.

"I believe the global community led by the United States can prevail upon Pakistan to live up to its responsibilities to the global community," he said.

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said nuclear conflict was unthinkable, but concern still mounted about a broader military conflict as neither country was offering a diplomatic solution to end their long dispute over Kashmir.

"I don't think either side is that irresponsible to go to that limit," Musharraf said. "I would even go to the extent of saying one shouldn't even be discussing these things, because any sane individual cannot even think of going into this unconventional war, whatever the pressures."

Responding to Musharraf's comment, Fernandes said: "I'm very happy that he has realized that only the insane would go for a bomb."